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Posts Tagged ‘hipaa’

Is Email Archival Required by HIPAA?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Customers often inquire if email archival is required by HIPAA regulations.

There is a great deal of confusion and uncertainty here because:

  1. HIPAA lists many requirements, but does not provide specific instructions on how to implement them. It’s ambiguous, but provides a great deal of flexibility for organizations.
  2. Email archival adds a fixed cost to any email solution – and everyone prefers to avoid unnecessary costs.
  3. Many organizations want to do the minimum needed for compliance due to time and budgetary constraints.

email archival hipaa

In our opinion, email archival is an implicit requirement of HIPAA for all organizations that send ePHI via email. In the next section, we’ll review why.

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Promoting Health Literacy with Email Engagement

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

In the final installment of our series on using digital technology for patient engagement, we discuss how email can promote health literacy and help patients manage chronic conditions.

health literacy

Patient Education and Health Literacy

Chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease require a high degree of health literacy to manage effectively at home. Health literacy is the ability to understand, engage, and act upon health information. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that heart failure patients with lower levels of health literacy saw higher hospital admission and mortality rates. Therefore, boosting levels of health literacy for chronic disease patients is essential to improving health outcomes.

Of course, patient education and health literacy start with the in-person interactions a patient has with their health care provider. However, once a patient leaves the office, education should not stop. Using digital channels to reinforce medical messaging and can help keep patients up to date with developments in their treatment plans and prognosis.

Email is an excellent way to engage patients. It is minimally intrusive and asynchronous, meaning patients can read the material whenever it is convenient for them. Better yet, email messages can be personalized to meet the needs of individual patients with minimal time and effort.

Email Campaign Examples to Promote Health Literacy

To illustrate how email can improve health literacy, let’s take an example. A patient recently diagnosed with diabetes has a lot to learn about managing their health. Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires substantial lifestyle changes. Non-adherence to treatment can have serious consequences, including hospitalization and death. A patient is likely to meet with a health care provider on a regular basis to discuss their treatment plan, but the amount of information can be overwhelming. Sending follow up emails that reiterate important information can help patients understand and absorb the messaging received from their doctor.

Some potential campaign ideas include:

  • how to use insulin pumps
  • managing blood sugar
  • what to do if blood sugar is too low or too high
  • learning about A1C levels
  • information on preventing serious complications
  • information on nutrition and meal planning
  • exercise ideas
  • sharing information about diabetes support groups and events

Being diagnosed with a chronic health condition can have serious mental health impacts. Helping patients feel supported with resources and access to medical information throughout the lifestyle changes is very important.

Personalizing Email Campaigns

Here comes our regular reminder: sending emails that contain ePHI like those mentioned above, need to comply with HIPAA. Once HIPAA requirements are met, organizations can personalize emails with patient data. In addition to sending medical information, campaigns can be personalized further using demographic data.

Patients that suffer from chronic conditions and are members of ethnic minority groups often experience worse health outcomes than their white counterparts. To address health equity issues, use segmentation to target select groups with messaging specific to their needs. This could include creating campaigns in multiple languages, addressing diet and exercise tips in a culturally sensitive way, or providing more resources to help these groups afford testing and insulin.

The power of email personalization allows health care providers to provide accurate and timely information to their patients.

Conclusion

Learning to live with a chronic health condition is not an easy task. To help prevent hospital visits and deteriorating health, promoting health literacy is essential. Supplementing doctor visits with personalized email campaigns can help answer patient questions and help them adjust to living with a chronic illness. Contact LuxSci today if you would like to learn more about HIPAA-compliant email marketing campaigns.

Does TLS Email Encryption Meet Compliance Requirements?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

In this article, we discuss what types of email encryption are sufficient to comply with government regulations. TLS encryption is a good option for many organizations dealing with sensitive data and legal requirements. However, TLS does not protect data at rest. Each organization must undertake their own risk assessment to determine which encryption methods are suitable to fulfill legal requirements.

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Email Encryption for HIPAA Compliance: SMTP TLS vs Portal Pick Up

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

Email encryption is an addressable standard for HIPAA compliance, but that doesn’t mean it’s optional. When sending sensitive data via email, it should be protected with encryption. However, there are many ways to send a secure email message and HIPAA does not require the use of a specific method.

The two most common email encryption methods include SMTP TLS and Secure Portal Pick Up. This article will discuss the differences between them and provide guidance for what to use in a HIPAA compliance context.

email encryption for hipaa

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Should You Integrate Secure Email Sending with an EMR or EHR?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Email is the preferred medium for business communications. Although those in the healthcare industry face restrictions on how they can use email, it is a powerful tool if properly secured. By integrating secure email with an EMR or EHR system, healthcare organizations can automate communications to maximize efficiency.

integrate secure email

What Are EMRs and EHRs?

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digitized versions of medical records. EMRs are sometimes referred to as electronic health records (EHRs). Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are slight distinctions between them.

Let’s start with electronic medical records. EMRs are essentially electronic versions of patient charts. They record a patient’s medical history and treatments at one hospital or practice. EMRs tend to stay at the practice, even if a patient switches to a new provider.

In contrast, EHRs contain a record of a patient’s medical history and treatment. They are long-term records that offer insight into a patient’s health, following them as they seek healthcare from different providers. EHRs are designed for information sharing. They help facilitate care when patients visit new clinics or hospitals.

Simply put, an EMR or EHR is the system used to manage or process these respective types of health records. Both EMRs and EHRs come with many of the same benefits and downsides as other forms of digitized information. The data is easier to find, access, and share, which can help speed up medical treatment and improve care. However, if the right data protection mechanisms aren’t in place, EHRs and EMRs are susceptible to data breaches and violations of privacy.

Why Integrate Secure Email with your EMR or EHR?

One of the main advantages of integrating secure email with an EMR or EHR is the ability to automate communications. Actions taken in the EMR can trigger email sequences. For example, an upcoming appointment can trigger an appointment reminder email. It requires no effort on the part of the office staff to send the email or make a phone call. The IT or marketing team simply creates the email template language and uses dynamic variables to personalize each email with the patient’s name, appointment date, and time.

If an organization integrates secure email with its EMR or EHR systems, they can set up automatic emails for a wide range of actions. Whenever there is relevant activity or an update on a patient’s chart, emails can be sent off without having to lift a finger. Some examples of emails that can be triggered by EMR activity include:

  • a request for a review post-appointment
  • follow up information on lab work or scheduling testing
  • flu shot or other vaccine reminders
  • password resets to access EHR

Ultimately, integrating secure transactional email with an EMR makes it easy to promote the organization and increase patient satisfaction. In addition, automating email workflows decreases the administrative burden on office staff without sacrificing the patient experience.

The Risks of Integrating Secure Email with an EMR or EHR 

It’s extremely important to select the right provider to integrate secure emails with an EMR or EHR. The HIPAA laws that govern medical records are stringent, and organizations face serious repercussions for violating them. The provider must comply with HIPAA regulations and encrypt outgoing emails that contain protected health information.

All encryption is not equal. A secure email provider like LuxSci allows users to choose the appropriate type of encryption to suit their email use cases. TLS encryption, which allows recipients to read encrypted emails directly in their inboxes, is appropriate for emailed appointment reminders, but is not suitable for something like lab or test results. Choose a provider who can meet your encryption needs.

Another factor to consider is desired sending rate. Many email providers use shared cloud servers which limit how quickly emails can be sent from an EMR. However, for emails that are time-sensitive, this can be an issue. Using a dedicated server configuration separate from the office’s regular day-to-day email sending has performance and security benefits. Improve your security posture by keeping EMR or EHR data isolated from other customers of your email provider. Learn more: Dedicated Server Benefits: How They Improve Security and Reliability.

Conclusion

Despite these challenges, services like LuxSci’s HIPAA-compliant Secure High Volume Email are specifically designed to help navigate the complex intersections of the regulations and transactional email sending. Our dedicated email solutions are custom-designed to meet our client’s sending needs while adhering to HIPAA requirements.